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It All Started With An Exhibit At The San Francisco Public Library...

Back in April of 2018, word began circulating on social media that the San Francisco Public Library was hosting an exhibit titled "Degenderette Antifa Art", in which a tank top featuring the words "I PUNCH TERFS!" was presented as part of the installation.

People who saw the piece recognized it as a call for violence against women and rallied together to demand the exhibit be shut down. The San Francisco Public Library ultimately decided to remove the tank top, but did not remove the rest of the exhibit.

This wasn't good enough.

Many of us didn't believe the San Francisco Public Library, or any other publicly-funded institution, would host an exhibit which featured work that called for violence against any other minority group (i.e. black people, the Jewish community, etc.). So, we didn't understand why it was acceptable to host a group which openly called for violence against women.

...but what could we do about this?

We Responded With A Counter-Exhibit

While we couldn't stop the San Francisco Public Library from hosting this exhibit, we could definitely create one of our own. However, creating an impromptu exhibit would present some serious challenges.

There was no funding available for a physical exhibit or any guarantee that a gallery would be willing to host it. Even if we did secure a space to host the event, there was no guarantee that the event would be safe for the people in attendance nor was there any way to prevent transgender activists and their supporters from crashing the event and damaging the installation. Even worse, women were afraid to show their faces because they knew that involvement with this project would invite harassment and ostracism into their lives.

A small group of organizers got together and decided to create a virtual exhibit that would remain accessible even after the "Degenderette Antifa Art" exhibit was taken down. Women would be permitted to share their stories while concealing their faces (if they wanted) and we could finally initiate serious conversations about the well-reasoned and logical objections to gender identity politics. Still, we were met with resistance.

The first incarnation of The TERF Exhibit was on Facebook. In response to it's creation, members of the transgender community and their supporters were actively downvoting and reporting the page for hate speech in a bid to get it removed. Very few of them were interested in engaging with the women who were sharing their stories, except to accuse them of lying or hatefulness.

As a result, the Facebook page was unpublished and an independent website was created in its stead.

The TERF Exhibit

The current incarnation of The TERF Exhibit serves multiple purposes.

More than anything, it exists to counter the narrative that there are just no good reasons to oppose gender identity politics and that women slurred TERFs are necessarily bigots for doing so.

It is also a form of protest that allows women, previously silenced for vocalizing their dissent, to address the misrepresentation of their views and have an uninterrupted say in the larger controversies surrounding gender identity politics.

Lastly, the exhibit shines a light on how ubiquitous disdain for women must be in our society and our world if the lived experience of being  female can be written off as a subjective feeling, completely removed from material consequence.

For those of us who have lived our entire lives in female bodies, there has never been a moment in time in which we could opt out of breast cancer, PCOS, unwanted pregnancy, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage, sex trafficking or any other form of abuse by simply declaring ourselves men. That's because being born a female has had real consequences for the lives of girls and women the world over. Those experiences should be acknowledged, respected, and understood; not  erased to placate the fragile egos of self-serving people who seek to appropriate our experiences by denying the role biology has played in shaping them.

This exhibit could not have been possible were it not for the brave women who came forward to share their experiences. We can only hope that this work inspires other women to speak out, as well.